tv Lead- Up to the Battle of Midway CSPAN June 3, 2017 2:00am-2:48am EDT
it's brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. next a look at the lead up to this world war ii event. after that the importance of code breaking in the battle of midway. then a japanese perspective of the fight. and later a look at the experiences of some of the u.s. navy pilots that were involved in the battle. the battle of midway took place from june 4th to june 7th, 1942. this talk from the macarthur memorial in norfolk, virginia, was part of a daylong symposium
to mark the battle's 75th anniversary. it's 45 minutes. our first speaker today is walter borneman. his biography as well as all the other speaker biographies are in your program. he's author of books including the study of civil leadership and we had him here last july to speak on his book of general macarthur. haeds a great scholar and doing some really cutting edge stuff on the pacific war. at this time walter borneman. >> good morning. thank you, chris. you know it's a pleasure to be here. and when i was invited by criss and jim to speak about the battle of midway i said, gosh,
i'm not really a midway expert. and they said that's okay, we have the experts coming. what we want you to do is set the table. and that's what i'm going to indeed do this morning, set the table of how we got to midway. i want to go through a few landmark things in terms of japan's relations with the world 50 years prior to midway. and then we're also going to talk about based on my book "the admiral" the leadership that appears at midway. and finally we're going to do an operational history of what goes on between pearl harb and june 2nd and 4th of 1942. so sailing the seas towards midway. let's start by talking about -- i may have clicked one too far. let's start about talking about the relationship between japan and the united states. note they're about the same
parallels of latitude. the difference is the united states in terms of its development moved westward across the american continent. japan as it faced industrialization during the late 19th century also moved westward. but what did that do? it put it on a collision course with china. and indeed, japan and china have been adversaries for a long time. what happened? divine wind, the japanese called kamikaze came up and destroyed it. china continues to interact with the west. japan really doesn't. it sort of closes its ports, and it remains closed until matthew perry opens japan's ports to commerce in 1853. now, i would suggest to you that no country in the intervening
last part of the 19th century really embraces the industrial revolution more so than japan. and there's a huge change. japan builds a new army, models it after germany, builds a new navy, models it after great britain and really steps forward onto the world stage. the first conflict occurs in 1894, the first sino japanese war. everybody says japan is an up start. japan can't take on china. well, not only does japan take on china, but japan wins. as part of that the island of formosa. there's my clicker. the island of formosa is infact japanese territory with china
going ahead and ending that conflict. after the first sineo japanese war, what happens? japan moves into korea and puts japan with another great power in the far east, russia. we all know about the ruseo japanese war. japan starts it with a sneak attack, sends ten juthese destroyers in there with torpedos. and it's very much a surprise attack, and the results of the war including the great naval battle at tushima, russia is really wiped out as a power in the far east. and japan takes another step in terms of going ahead as a world power. let me suggest that the first world war japan is actually an
ally of the united states and the other allied powers. there's even a japanese naval squadron that's at work convoying allied ships in the mediterranean. but what does world war i really do in terms of the big story, particularly in terms of midway? after the treaty of versailles concludes the first world war, japan is beneficiary of all these of islands. so the care lines and the marshals all become japanese territory. the united states has always figured, well we'll defend the philippines and just counter any aggressor or harm, but now suddenly post-world war i japan
controls a large stretch of the central pacific. well, the other thing that happens after world war i is the national conference. most people think in the aftermath of world war i, well we have the league of nations whereby japan joins the league of nations, the united states does not. okay, there's going to be a new era of peace. we're going to pass these naval treaties that basically limit capital shift construction. somehow, someway there's going to be peace. well, that certainly doesn't happen. but let me suggest to you as we sort of do these landmarks as japan goes to world power, the very fact that the washington naval conference in 1921 includes the united states, great britain, and japan -- even though the united states and great britain have 5, 5 to a
ragts crow of three with japan, the fact with the other two powers pretty significant. in the mean what's happening with china? in 1947 china's really in chaos, but they've solidified some emerging national government in china. thou, there's certainly some communist opposition really early. but what happens is as they slidify some of that national government and kind of extends his power northward into man churia and brings that under the chinese overall government, that puts china on even more of a collision course with japan. and along about that time, 1931, another marker, there's something called the manchurian incident, and it's really kind
of a minor thing. there's an explosion on a railway. but japan says, oh, my gosh, china is angressor. we've got to move into man churia. that's what happens. now, china, a good member of the league of nations that it is says, well, wait we're going to appeal to the league. japan whose also a member of the league of nations says, yeah, i think we'll just withdraw from the league. so that doesn't do much in terms of going ahead and solving that crisis. interesting footnote to that, in sort of a bait and switch, the international community and the world is really focused on what's happening in shanghai. and japan goes back and forth, well, maybe we'll ru, maybe we won't withdraw. in the meantime they're using all of their pow shz to solidify
control in manchuri, in the meantime they go ahead and solidify control over manchuria. moving on in 1947, sometimes we think of it beginning -- but world war ii in the pacific really does begin in 1947 when japan full out decides to invade china. there's one of those who fired first, but japan uses it to go ahead and really aggressively move from manchuria into the rest of north eastern china, and entertainment he says i'm going to really oppose this. so there's a major war that goes on between china and japan beginning in 1937 and really through the next four years up until when things really break
out with the united states in '41. the united states kind of gets involved in the middle of this with an incident called the punay incident. it's a gunboat and on the river on sunday morning. why do these things always happen on sunday mornings? on the nancy port there and japanese planes attack it, kill some of those involved and the chief of operations basically advises franklin roosevelt we've got to do something about this, we've got to take some action. work with britain to put up a quarantine and everything. well, that advice, i wouldn't say it falls on deaf ears because roosevelt is responsive of that, but he's still fighting the depression.
and great britain, 1937 is occupied with things that are going on in europe. so there's just not the support. 70% in a gallop poll in january 1948 of the american public say we don't have any business at all being in the far east. and america really turns a cold shoulder to what japan is doing. and even though china is sort of a nominal ally of the united states at that particular point, there is no american interest in terms of doing anything major there. well, moving on quickly, the war starts in europe. the french fall in may of 1940. the vichy government that still controls french-indo china says japan, you want to move some troops in here, setup some bases and stuff, fine. and even as late as december
1942 one of the things that franklin roosevelt is asking the japanese is wait a minute, you had this agreement with vichy-france folks in french-indo china, why are you moving more and more troops there? please tell us about that. and of course japan doesn't respond to that. so what has happened in july of 1941 is that roosevelt imposes an oil embargo. both with great britain and the netherlands, a three-way embargo of japanese oil and raw materials that are coming from the dech east ind eies and that part of indo-china. andnition to that roosevelt freezes assets in the united states, recalls macarthur to active duty in the philippines and basically begins to gear up in terms of a war footing.
let me suggest to you that while that embargo was really posed as a way tosert sort of curtail and hamstring japan's operations, in some respects it made them even more determined to work on a fairly short time schedule to move into southeast asia and come up with some level of those natural resources that they needed historically. all right, let's do a quick overview of the players. i'm going to leave characterizations of admirals zom moato and agumo to some of my colleagues and experts here. but i do want to run through some of the characterization of the americans involved. he's chief of operations and commander of the naval fleet. i would suggest to you that admiral king is the overlooked
strategist of world war ii, the man who really says to the joint chiefs, all right, we have come up with an allied plan and a u.s. plan of germany-first, but he's also focused on the pisc. he's also focus odon winning a war and pouring forces into the pacific. and also i would say douglas a arthur is one of the beneficiaries of that. because if king had not quinted the joint chiefs and the joint chiefs convinced roosevelt to put resources into the pacific, again, we may not have been meeting the japanese as we ended up doing. king has two things he develops over his career. he graduates from annapolis in 1901. he's born on the lakeoffs eerie
in 1878. but as he goes through his naval career, he focuses on submarines and aircraft. he's very much a brown shoe admiral coming out of that aviation wing of the american navy. he had a really fiery temper. i think like a lot of other folks i can mention, there's really no middleground. he had five daughters and a son. one of his daughters famously said, daddy, well, he's the most even-tempered person i know. he's always in a rage. and i think that probably was admiral king. chester emts, very much different personality. he's someone that really leads by example. he's someone that puts his arm around you and says, hey, lets get this thing done together.
german family. stories told he went off to west point. he wanted to go to westpoint very definitely, but he went off to annapolis buzz there were so many cavalry officers in texas at that point who had sons they wanted to send to wept. they said you're never going to get into westpoint, but i've got this opening in annapolis. what if you go there? so he agreed to go there, wrote back to his parents who were german immigrants and said, well, i'm supposed to take a foreign language, what do you recommend? and they said, well, take english, son, i think that'll put you in good stead. but nimitz, interestingly enough he's in charge of building the submarine base in the 1920s. he pioneers rotc at berkeley in the late 1920s, goes on and
commands the augusta, that's the flagship of the agsiatic fleet at that particular point in the 30s, and then becomes chief of the bureau of aviation. so by 1930, 1941 he has a good idea of the people he's going to send in harm's way on the 7th. let's talk about bill haulsy. he's the one that channeled his energy into athletics. he was voted senior of the year of shipman who did the most to promote athletics. he goes onto serve some time on great fleets, on battleships. but he's a destroyer man. early at the age of 50, he's
going to get into carrier aviation. king, by the way, has been a captain of the lexington, and he's sort of a -- i would say he mento mentors halsey a little bit. he saidia need to go to pensacola and need to take flight instructions. i notice veterans and families of veterans who stood, the most awarding thing to me in turnls of my writing world war ii has really been the stories of some of these men and some of others that have come to me. the nephew of halsey's flight instructor from the 1930s, e-mailed me the story, didn't make it into the book. it's one of those things it would be nice if it was there, of halsey coming down after one of his solo ships, remember he's a navy captain of about 50, and
this the instructor is probably some young lupt, and halsey jumps out of the plane so excited and he says captain halsey why are you so excited? and he slaps him on the back, and he said, well, son i got my prescription glasses and for the first time i can see the panel. what really says a lot about him is a story he was on it bridge of one of the carriers at one point and a young junior officer looked down at the compass and kind of pondered a course change and kind of wupdered where that sob was taking us now. and out steps halsey with a finger and basically saying not so old, not so old. so halsey had a sense of humor.
and again, different personality all of those folks. let's talk about fletcher a little bit 3467 fletcher graduates in 1906. that's a year behind nimisz. he actually wins the honor of the swreera cruise. 1914 there's a little expedition to varacruz. fletcher wins a medal of honor for that. he goes on, and i would suggest to you that he is really the epitome of battleship admirals. he's somebody who goes and is able to command destroyers, battleships, cruisers by the time of pearl harbor he's in charge of the scouting force. and somehow along the way i think fletcher gets a little bit of a bad rap. i recommend to you a book by
john lum strm called "black shoe carrier admiral" i think that came out about ten years ago, and i think it's really an oefb due and very balanced presentation in terms of fletcher and his importance to really the entire american navy particularly in the months leading up to midway. well, let's say a few things about raymond spruinz, and yum what i've been able to fiend out, it really was that. that's not what would raymond would have said. and i think that characterization of his name says something -- and way he would want it character sized, says something about his
meticilousness. he and halsey, believe it or not, become great friends. their wives, their families, they're both destroyer men, they pow around together, but yet they're polar opposites. one junior officer said when halsey later on in the war had commander of the fleet, we never knew what we were going to do. spruance is the exact opposite. yet somehow these two polar opposites become friends and of course world war ii goes on, they're going to alternate commander of the fleets.
he becomes chief of staff of the army understand hoover, president hoover in 1930. and then retires from the army, make aglong story short, ends up in the philippines. he's an advisor. and by the fall of 1941 he's basically convinced the american leadership war department that he can in fact defend the entire a arkpelco of the philippines. so that really brings us to the summer of 1941. and i think something that's important, here's nimitz taking command of the pacific fleet. right after pearl harbor roosevelt said to king tell nimitz to go out there and stay there until the war is won.
and nimitz did. he's kind of in shock, he ends up then flying from the west coast to pearl harbor. and he assumes command on the deck of the gray lg on december 31st of 1941. and he later joked that he took command on a submarine because it's the only ship that would have survived the attack. well, that was his sense of humor, obviously it wasn't quite that bad. but what nimitz didn't recognize, and i think what's important to the up coming battles, he recognized that despite the horrific loss of american lives and treasure, there were really three things where it could have been an awful lot worse. the carriers were not important. where would be at midway if the carriers or some of the carriers had been sunk at pearl harbor?
the second thing is the summary thing he eludes to really is intact. it's going to take the attack to the enemy very, very quickly. and the third thing, and admiral negumo is going to come under criticism for not launching a third attack wave, but the if the oil tanks, if the dry dock facilities, if allf that infrastructure had been destroyed on december 7th, 1941 that line in the pfr pacific would have perhaps been pushed back it the west coast. no one would have been able to turn around to york town in three days and send it back out to sea for operation. so nimitz was great at being able to bring people together and say, okay, i'm not going to cast any blame for what
happened. it could have been worse, let's focus on those three things and do what we can here at pearl harbor. and that's absolutely critical in terms of the next six months leading up to midway. all right, king's orders in tumors of the global strategists we've alluded to. king tells nimitz three things. one, you've got to protect the hawaii to midway line. probably in the spring of 1942 midway for all of its acreage and tiny atoll may be the most heavily defended island in the pacific. the second thing is he says you need to protect the west coast to hawaii lifeline. west coast to hawaii but also west coast to australia. after the war we know that maybe japan didn't have quite the plans to go ahead and actually do a physical invasion of
australia. but they certainly had plans to cut off australia from the american west coast, hence their operations into the solomons and things. so at this particular point it's really important for nimitz to hold the west coast to hawaii and australia lifeline. the third thing, and this is really where king comes into his own as a global strategist, i think, is he says to george marshal, on the joint chiefs, we are not going to do defensive containment in the pacific. we are going to push back and take an offensive operation against the japanese thrust. and i think that that is critical not only to the story of midway but certainly the story of what goes on after midway in terms of operations against quadal canal.
i want to tell you a story about an operation here off -- it's march of 1942. the japanese as we mentioned are moving into the solomon ilpds. you can see the dates of their expansion. douglas macarthur is still at this point in the philippines. and he's basically saying, well, what's the american navy going to do? the american navy having done some initial raids in january of 1942, enterprise and halsey sail into the marshals, fletcher and york town sail into the gillberts sort of with some nuisance raids and also to put the japanese on notice that the
american army is not going to take this lying down. lexington and york town and fletcher is on york town and wilson brown is on lexington. and the two carriers together sail into the gulf of pompa while the japanese are making their assault on march 8th. and what they do is a rel tivly little known operation. they launch air attacks on these beach heads and on these japanese support ships that are off lake. that does two things. the first thing it does is really give a whole cadre of flight officers on both of those ships some pretty serious training. it gets a little bit dicy up there, they're facing somearial
combat. but they're also able to sink about three transports, a subtracer and some cargo there. so they get flight operations and experience that particular way. but the most important thing that raid does is convince the japanese that, wow, wait a minute, we can't conduct these operations without adequate air cover. we're going to need our aircraft carriers and everything. and what happens is that they go ahead and have their main carriers at that point in the indian ocean, and they postpone the invasion of fort morseby that's involved with the coral sea battle here, and basically put that back a few days and weeks as the time goes by. and i would suggest to you that that really does impact the entire schedule of the battle of
midway. and if coral sea had happened earlier, midway may have happened earlier, and that particular attack in new guinea is significant. mac arth, of course, a few days later arrives in australia. the ostrillion press says, wow, it really looks like he's here ready to go ahead and make a good showing of things. he's a workhorse, and what is he going to command? macarthur ends up with the southwest pacific here. numitz is in charge of everything else in terms of the central pacific, south pacific and then robert halsey is going to chand. and then this whole idea of the central pacific and nimitz moving this way is important. i want to talk about yorktown and carrier operations a second.
april, 1942 is sort of an epiphany for nimitz at that time. as we talk about yorktown being together in those operations it's really a situation where king, despite the fact he pioneered working together and everything king has the idea, well, maybe we ought to be careful with our carriers. nimitz is the one that really pushes him with the carriers. that certainly happens at coral sea, and that sort of what brings us to this particular battle. let me just go through the numbers for you here in terms of coral sea, and you can follow along on the map. yorktown and lexington
rendezvous under fletcher's command on may 1st. the japanese advancing there on may 4th, comes back with glowing reports and nimitz says not so fast. let's see if we can't really make more of this happen, join up with lexington and go ahead and take on the japanese fleet. yorktown and lexington rejoin on may 5th. number three, to the cry of scratch one flattops on may 7th. and then of course come the duals. it really, really triggers carrier operations. the lexington gets hit. i have a good friend named bill
guy, passed away. but i met him when he had his cap lexington cv 2. he used to tell the story of going over the side, and he said other than losing his wallet he left below decks, he basically said not one man on that ship got out of line. that's how we were able to get off with so few casualties, told the story of ice cream being passed out, a ration treat in the heat and stench of that battle just before, of course, they abandoned ship. and later american destroyer fellps sank the lexington so it wouldn't fall into japanese hands, sank it with a torpedo. lart, nimitz at that particular time and week is on the cover of "time" magazine.
let me summarize three things that i think are important to the patal of midway that come out of all of this. one, japanese naval expansion does not just occur between pearl harbor and midway. it's really the culmination of 50 years, as we've seen, of japanese expansion, japanese military build up. half a century during which they have not been defeated. coral sea we can putdown as a draw. but as they go to midway, there's this great feeling of superiority, and they have not known defeat. the second thing, let me suggest to you in terms of all of this pre-midway activity is king's policy of global two-ocean war. if king hadn't really pushed on the joint chiefs a strategy to go ahead and hold the line in
the pacific, the defensive containment line may well have been east of hawaii and not west of it in terms of midway island. and the third thing, of course, is in terms of the evolution of the aircraft carrier as a weapon. nimitz really succeeds in this idea of marshaling carriers, putting them together as an offensive strike force and the pre'pearl harbor mantra of battleships, battleships, battleships after coral sea and certainly after midway becomes carriers, carriers, carriers. it's june 2, 1942, and we're about to fight the battle of midway. thanks. [ applause ] >> i'd be glad to take a
question or two, and please use the microphones. >> in preparing for today i read a little bit about the early 1941 battle off of cape matapan in the mediterranean and skimming through it was impressed with the key role that a couple of british carriers played in that basically surfaced battle at the european war. did the information about that come into the hands of the u.s. navy by this time, or was that sort of so far away and obscured that they really didn't have a feel for carry operations in
that cape matapan battle? >> i think there's no question that nimitz had information with that, that that kind of information was being shared even before pearl harbor very informally by -- you've got to remember roosevelt and churchill are together for the conference in 1941. and even -- there's this tremendous -- king at this particular point is in charge of these convoys in the north lantic. so i think there's these close building relationships between the american and british navies at that particular point. one could argue that why wasn't more attention paid to perhaps what was done at sinking the italian navy. yes, sir.
>> it's very fortunate we had three or four carriers at this time. i'm interested in the process during the 20s and 30s, then when the decision was made to build these carriers. it was a period of some isolationism, america debated what to do about japan and germany. so what was the process by which they decide today start building them in the '30s? is there one person who kind of gets the credit for the foresight? >> the early carriers, initially there was a carrier called the langly. it was a coal ship, and then it was modified and modified again to basically become a seaplane tender. but one of the things the washington conference in 1921 -- there were a lot of exceptions, and it gave permission to the united states to give two carriers what were basically
battleship hulls at that point. so in other words let's not build battleships, but by the way we have these two hulls on the wefbs, and what are we going to do with those? and those basically became the early two carriers of lexington and saratova. i think you need to give to some extent roosevelt and people like admiral king -- i think you need to give roosevelt even with his election in 1923, he's beginning to turn back this isolationism and do things like put more money into the navy and build ships like that. cernly enterprise, ranger,
yorktown come online. and they're really gems in terms of state-of-the-art at that time. and halsey and king both command them at that point. but to our point of what would have happened if we hadn't done that, just like if the carriers hadn't been caught at pearl harbor, i think the results might have been catastrophic. enterprise with bill halsey is en route to resupply things on wake island. and then lexington pulls out of the pearl harbor as late as december 5th, that friday and takes a fleet of similar aircraft towards midway. they don't end up making that
delivery, so that's kind of the history of the carriers to december 7th. and i would agree with you they're very important. saratova, by the way, gets torpedoed very soon and ends up not being involved in the actions early on in 1942. it's repaired, but it's not available for early operation. of course what i didn't mention in the brief overview is hornet and enterprise are involved with the do little raid. nimitz have already dispatched them after that with halsey into the coral sea. they just don't arrive until after that. >> should admiral king, nonetheless, have been fired in 1942 for what he did not do in the atlantic? >> for what he did not do where?
>> in the atlantic. >> here's my take on that. i think king, and by that i assume you mean not put in convoys sooner and putting in things there? i think king has gotten a bad rap for that. that's just my personal opinion. but no one knew what was going on in the atlantic better than king. because before he's basically tapped to command the u.s. fleet, haz in charge of the u.s. squadron, becomes the atlantic fleet and he's shepparding these convoys back and forth across the atlantic. and he's the one who basically says -- i think it's to the captain of the greer who's sort of being questioned for firing on a u-boat, that captain as long as i run this fleet, i'm never going to dispute you doing something in self-defense. so king is well-informed about
what's going on. and i think that while it took a while to employ the convoy system, that part of that was just in terms of adequate defense forces, destroyers to shepherd them. so i'm not saying i give king a total pass on that. but i think that that's one of those things that people sort of want to characterize king's record of what he didn't do based oen that. and for my take at least, i'm more of a king supporter in that. >> we have a question from twitter. can you describe the relationship between general macarthur and admiral nimitz? >> nimtz and macarthur had a very good relationship. i know it's been popular, and
frankly perhaps in the admirals i was a little bit rough on macarthur. the navy guys didn't think i was too rough, but perhaps i was. but i think at the end of the day the friction, the traditional army, navy rivalries, i think they've been overstated. i think there were people on both sides, macarthur's staff and nimtz's staff. but i think that nimitz and macarthur once they got together -- skum, just like halsey and macarthur really got along and embraced the bigger picture. so thank you very much. [ applause ] the battle of midway took place from june 4th to june 7th,
1942 and resulted in a decisive naval victory over japan. next arthur elliot karlsty talks about the key role played by the u.s. during the battle. it's about 45 minutes. >> well, welcome back, ladies and gentlemen. before i introduce our next speaker, it's a privilege and an honor to announce we actually have a battle of midway veteran in the audience today. i'd like him to be stand and be recognized. captain dexter rumsy flew out of shoals, about 45 minutes west of shoals during the battle. captain